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Resilience – A Key to Happiness

Resilience – A Key to Happiness

As life grows increasingly complex, happiness seems to grow more and more elusive. There is no guarantee that you will not face setbacks in life, but how you choose to deal with them is definitely in your control. A person who lives by this mantra, one who bounces back from the blows of life with spirit intact, is said to possess that rarest of qualities – resilience.

Putting Disappointment in Perspective

When we read of the number of people seeking escape from life’s realities through drink, drugs, alcohol, and even suicide, one fact is painfully clear – they lack the ability to see things with the right perspective. Agreed, you may have flunked the exam, but does that have to mean you are a failure? Perhaps you are not able to keep a steady relationship, but does that mean you can never be happy? Failing to do well at studies or work, an enterprise that fails to take off and instead lands you in debt, a debilitating illness, or losing a loved one – all of these are part and parcel of life and if you do not want these to turn you into a nervous wreck, it is vital you put such disappointments in perspective.

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Tips to Improve Resilience

Resilience is a quality that is a combination of several things – a positive attitude, the ability to discriminate between right and wrong, the strength to do what is difficult without giving in to impulses, and the ability to believe in yourself and your abilities. Here are a few tips on how you can build resilience.

Bolster Belief

Think back to past events that, at that time, had seemed like insurmountable problems. Recollect how bad things seemed and yet, how they ultimately changed for the better. Look for positives you can take from such incidents – how you learned something new, or how it was all for good in the long run. Tell yourself that the present situation is a similar one, and think of how, in the future, you will be wondering why you felt so seriously down over such a trivial issue.

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Connect with Resilient People

Find someone in your social circle whom you admire for their resilience in the face of trouble. It could be a parent who struggled to raise you alone, or it could be a sibling who overcame his or her limitations, or a teacher who faced professional difficulties without batting an eyelid, or a friend who made a success out of a failed marriage – just look around yourself with a discriminating eye and you will find multiple examples of people who show resilience. Connect with such people and get their support – especially when you are feeling low. Avoid contact with people who encourage you to feel self-pity because this will only bog you down even more.

Do Something Meaningful

One of the best ways to put your life in perspective is to open your eyes and see the troubles other people face. Visit an orphanage or an old age home and see how people cope with not having their close ones; visit a centre for the differently-abled and see how they strive to make their way through life. Do not stop with mentally appreciating their spirit; strive to do something to contribute to them. Find something that gives you a sense of purpose – volunteer for work in your community or join a group that does something for the deprived people in society.

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Pay Attention to Yourself

Resilience has a lot to do with how good you feel about yourself and about life in general; in turn, this is influenced by your state of physical and mental health. Make time for regular exercise – the endorphins released during exercise will help to boost your mood. Practice deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to keep your mind free of stress. Pursue a hobby and participate in activities that give you joy and help you relax. If you find yourself unable to cope with stressful events in your life, ask for help. Sometimes, confiding in a close family member or a friend can help you feel better; if this too does not seem to help, it makes sense to seek guidance from a mental health counselor.

Being resilient is not easy – it takes a lot of effort and of course, time. An important point to remember is that people who are resilient are not those who have absolutely no stress in their life; it’s just that they have learned the art of coping with it and bouncing back from the setbacks they face. Ignoring a problem in the hope it will go away is not the solution; facing up to it squarely, taking time to deal with it, and recovering your poise is what constitutes resilience and this is often the factor that distinguishes the true winners from the also-rans.

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None of us can order our life to make sure there are no shocks – all we can do is ensure we have the right shock absorbers in place so that we suffer minimal damage, and bounce back quickly, looking to the future with hope and optimism.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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